October 7, 2014–June 7, 2015
The tremendous commercial and political success enjoyed by the Dutch Republic during the 17th century led to an unprecedented period of cultural, artistic, and scientific accomplishment in the Netherlands. This era is generally considered the Golden Age of Dutch art, when painters developed a range of new styles and subjects and achieved levels of quality unparalleled by any other European school at the time. Already coveted by collectors in 18th-century Britain, paintings by the Dutch masters have been the object of fierce competition among French, German, and American collectors since the middle of the 19th century, and today they command pride of place on the walls of museums and galleries around the world.
Over the past two decades, Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo have assembled one of the most magnificent private collections of 17th-century Dutch art in the world, comprising superb examples of nearly all the major categories of subject matter explored by artists of the time: portraits, landscapes, church interiors, still lifes, genre scenes, and more. All of the works in the van Otterloo collection are distinguished by their remarkable quality, enviable condition, and dazzling display of pictorial craft. The van Otterloos continue to pursue their learned passion—which extends to 17th-century Dutch furniture and decorative arts as well—as they expand their collection of masterworks and generously make their rare and cherished paintings accessible through loans to museums and exhibitions.
In early October 2014, the Yale University Art Gallery will put on view an extraordinary group of 30 paintings borrowed from the van Otterloo collection, featuring works by Frans Hals, Gerrit Dou, Jacob van Ruisdael, Jan van de Cappelle, Pieter Saenredam, Jan Steen, Willem Claesz. Heda, Jan Porcellis, and others. This imposing group brilliantly demonstrates the Dutch masters’ interest in naturalistic representation and their formidable and distinctive pictorial skills.
Landscapes and seascapes constitute the largest group of paintings on loan, reflecting the richness of this genre in the van Otterloo collection. The paintings to be shown at Yale chart the full development of the genre; they proudly portray the Dutch flat lands, rivers, sea, and towns as no other European artists had ever thought to do before. While the early Village Scene with a Canal by the Flemish-born Jan Brueghel the Elder represents the beginning of landscape as an independent genre, works by Jacob van Ruisdael, particularly his Winter Landscape with Two Windmills (ca. 1675), which so beautifully captures the variations of winter light on the snow-covered setting, exemplify the classical high point of Dutch landscape painting. The surprising range of Dutch marine painting is typified by the majestic A “Kaag” and a “Smak” in a Calm (1651)—a rare work by Jan van de Cappelle, the incomparable master of rendering hazy atmospheres and unrippled water surfaces—contrasted with Jan Porcellis’s Seascape with a Rainbow (ca. 1631), a study of color and composition so tightly and brilliantly controlled as to border on abstraction.
The complexity and artistic invention of Dutch masters is further apparent in the many townscapes and church interiors in the collection. View of the Westerkerk, Amsterdam (ca. 1667–70) by Jan van der Heyden and View of Haarlem by Gerrit Adriaensz. Berkheyde are among these artists’ finest works, characterized by a quiet, arresting, even mysterious beauty. Berkheyde and van der Heyden were the first masters to develop the townscape as an autonomous genre. Interior of Oude Kerk, Amsterdam (ca. 1660–65) by Emanuel de Witte, and even more so Interior of the St. Bavokerk, Harlem (1660) by Pieter Saenredam, underscore the artistic liberties taken by artists in their seemingly realistic renderings of church interiors.
A cluster of works by Jan Steen, Nicolaes Maes, Gabriël Metsu, and Adriaen van Ostade reveals the skill of Dutch artists in composing genre scenes that often conceal a moralizing message. The masters of the Golden Age brought this category of painting, one already popular in the 16th century, to a level of sophistication and pictorial refinement often imitated but not often matched during succeeding centuries. A similar claim might be advanced for Dutch portraiture. The small, compelling Portrait of a Preacher (ca. 1660) by Frans Hals, one of the artist’s most psychologically penetrating late paintings, employs the bold, economical brushwork for which Hals was famous, in poignant contrast to the nearly contemporary Self-Portrait (ca. 1665) by Gerrit Dou—the first of the renowned Leyden fijnschilders (fine painters)—which displays the artist’s legendary refinement of finish.
The stunning appearance of truth achieved by Dutch painters of still life is exemplified by rare early flower pieces by Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder and Balthasar van der Ast. The magisterial Still Life with Glasses and Tobacco (1633) by Willem Claesz. Heda is a masterpiece among the many so-called monochrome banquet pieces painted in Holland. The reflections of the windows of the painter’s studio in the transparent glasses staged on the table are breathtaking, as is the mimetic rendering of the lustrous engraved metal on the overturned tazza. Among the van Otterloos’ most recent acquisitions is the Breakfast Still Life with a Roemer, a Brazier, a Clay Pipe, Herring, Bread, and a Deck of Cards (1638) by Pieter Claesz. Only recently rediscovered in France, it will be on view for the first time in the United States at the Gallery.
The paintings on loan from the van Otterloo collection will be shown among works from the permanent display in the European art galleries on the second floor of the Old Yale Art Gallery building. They will be featured in a suite of four central rooms specially prepared for them. This generous loan will make it possible for the Gallery to represent the Golden Age of Dutch art in much of its breadth and at its highest level. The installation will be accompanied by a rich program of public events and lectures, as well as related Yale course offerings for students, details of which will be announced shortly.
Wednesday, November 12, 12:30 pm
Thursday, November 13, 1:30 pm
Friday, November 14, 1:30 pm
“Close Looking at Pictures from the Netherlands”
In these close-looking sessions, participants are invited to study paintings in small groups with curators and other experts. Registration required; call 203.432.9525.
Thursday, November 13, 5:30 pm
“Made in Holland, Collected in the USA: The Collection of Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo”
Quentin Buvelot, Senior Curator, Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, discusses the history of the van Otterloos’ collection. Reception to follow. Generously sponsored by the Martin A. Ryerson Lectureship Fund.
Friday, November 14, 5:30 pm
“‘How on Earth Did They Do It?’: Collecting Dutch Masterpieces in the 21st Century”
Jock Reynolds, the Henry J. Heinz II Director, and Laurence Kanter, the Lionel Goldfrank III Curator of European Art, ask the van Otterloos how they have built their collection. Three well-known specialists join the discussion: Quentin Buvelot, Senior Curator, Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis; Otto Naumann, veteran art dealer; and Peter Sutton, the collectors’ first advisor and Executive Director of the Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Conn. Reception to follow. Generously sponsored by the Martin A. Ryerson Lectureship Fund.
Spring Lecture Series
Fridays at 1:30 pm, beginning January 23
“A History of Dutch Painting in Six Pictures”
John Walsh, B.A. 1961, Director Emeritus of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and a specialist in Dutch paintings, offers a series of six lectures that explores the art of the Dutch Republic during its extraordinary flowering in the 17th century. By focusing on a single work each week and examining its artistic, intellectual, and political contexts, the audience will become familiar with six great paintings and the artists who made them. Three of the works are on view at the Gallery and the others are in Dutch museums. Walsh examines the artists’ intentions, the role of competition in the art market, and the development of styles. The lecture series coincides with the loan of thirty important Dutch and Flemish paintings to the Gallery from the collection of Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo. Free and open to the public; no registration required.
Participants are invited to study the paintings in small groups in “Close-Looking Sessions” with Gallery staff before or after the lectures, at 12:30 or 3:00 pm. You must register in advance for these sessions. Owing to the anticipated popularity of these sessions and space restrictions, we encourage visitors to register for no more than two sessions. To register, visit artgallery.yale.edu/programs.
All programs are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. For more detailed programming information, visit artgallery.yale.edu/calendar.